Ahmed Ghailani gets life sentence in embassy bombings
A US court on Tuesday sentenced former Guantanamo detainee Ahmed Ghailani to life in prison for his role in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, dpa reported.
The bombings killed 224 people, including 12 US citizens.
Judge Lewis Kaplan read the sentence in a court room in Lower Manhattan after upholding a guilty verdict on a single count against Ghailani in the first civilian trial of a detainee who had been locked up at Guantanamo.
A jury last year exonerated Ghailani of 284 other counts sought by US prosecutors. Ghailani's defense lawyers had requested Kaplan to toss out the one-count verdict.
Kaplan said the single count of "knowing and willing participation" in the bomb attacks against the US embassies was evidence enough to imprison Ghailani.
The defence asked for leniency against Ghailani, claiming he had been tortured by the CIA and had provided information useful to the government. But Kaplan called the crime "horrific" and said Ghailani's crimes were "a thousandfold more than his mistreatment at the hands of the US government."
Kaplan said evidence of the attacks on the US embassies "all support an inference of knowing and willing participation in the conspiracy."
"The evidence of Ghailani's culpable mental state and intent was plentiful," said Kaplan. "Thus if there was any injustice in the jury's verdict, the victims were the United States and those killed, injured and otherwise devastated by these barbaric acts of terror."
The US argued Ghailani was part of the al-Qaeda terrorist cell operating in East Africa in the 1990s and personally planned the bombings in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salam, including the purchase of trucks and explosives to attack the embassies.
During the trial last year, defense lawyers had said Ghailani was innocent of the charges and was "duped" into the plot.
Ghailani flew to Pakistan the day before the attacks, was captured in 2004 and held in CIA-run prisons until he was moved to the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 2006. He was transferred to New York in 2009, before his trial last year.